Chapter 35

"Ron…what are you doing here?" Harry asked.

"I thought Hermione was in trouble, like you said." He answered gruffly. "Apparently she's doing just fine…"

"Ron, come on, I just didn't want your feelings hurt! But I didn't lie; I do think Hermione's in trouble."

"Cause he's just as daft as you are." Ginny added, scowling. She sighed and turned to Hermione. "Sorry, we saw Ron had left and followed him. We don't mean to just burst in on you like this…"

"And yet, it keeps happening…" Draco said, rolling his eyes. He was still pretty pissed.

Hermione turned pleading eyes to Ginny.

"I know, I know…sorry. We didn't want Ron to burst over like this. I'm guessing he found out more than he wanted to?"

"Don't talk about me like I'm not here!" He yelled.

"Sorry…Ron, really. You need to calm down. I just don't get why everyone has to freak out…" Ginny started, but was interrupted by Ron.

"Freak out? Why are you so damn calm!? It's Draco-fuckin-Malfoy, Ginny!"

Harry sighed. "I know. I just don't understand it, but Ginny seems to think we should all "just get along." I disagree- I think Draco's up to something."

"Oh, you think?" Ron said sarcastically.

"Come on, Ron. Put away the wand. We already have a plan set up to deal with Draco; let's all just go sit down and I'll explain it."

"Yeah? And why was I left out of this little "plan?"

Ginny sighed. Boy's were so difficult! She stepped forward and grabbed Ron's arm, pulling him back to the kitchen. She met Hermione's eyes. Hermione nodded. It was probably best if they sit down and explain the whole situation to Ron.

"What?!" Hermione asked. Could this night get any worse?

"Well…" Harry said, somewhat sheepishly. "I figured, since we're already here, and I have it with me…"

"Well, that's just damn convenient," Draco said in a voice barely above a whisper. "you just happening to have Veratiserum in your back pocket."

Ron was sitting quietly with his arms folded, glaring Hermione's way. Harry had once said that he was angry with Draco, and just disappointed with Hermione's judgment. He wasn't angry with Hermione herself. Ron, however, seemed to lay the blame directly on her. He was pissed. He cared about her so much, yet she had ended up falling for the worse guy possible. It was too much for Ron to forgive, or so it seemed.

But Ron's reaction could wait until later, because after explaining the situation Harry had produced a little ornate bottle. Veratiserum.

There was no more stalling, no more pretending it wasn't going to happen…

Draco sighed. "Might as well get it over with, right?" He asked, looking directly at Hermione.

She was tortured with what was about to happen. Veratiserum was a key to one's innermost thoughts; it was invasive and wrong.

"Draco, you don't have to do it." She said, voice firm.

Harry blinked. "Hermione, I need to know if he's lying! I said either way I'll help the prat out at the trial…"

"You're thinking about finding out the truth, but your forgetting about the individual! Draco has rights! You're forcing him to do this- it's his only chance! But it violates basic human rights to force your way into someone's mind like this! You know it's wrong…"

"What other way is there? He's proven before that he can't be trusted! How the hell am I…" he looked Ron's way, "are we supposed to trust him with our best friend, of all things?"

"Why can't you just…"

"Hermione." Draco interrupted.

"…just trust my judgment? Why do you…"

"Hermione."

"…always have to…"

"Hermione!" Draco yelled. She turned to stare at him. "Just forget it. Really. It's…it's not a huge deal. It's better than Azkaban…and if it'll let these losers know that I'm the good guy and give them a bit of guilt, all the better."

There was silence for a moment, the Harry stood up. "Let's go to the living room then. This shouldn't take long."

"I'm coming too, of course!" Hermione glared, standing up as well.

"No, your not." Draco countered in a low voice, standing up next to her.

"W…what?"

"Come on- People on Veratiserum say stupid, embarrassing things. I don't want you, of all people, around!"

"But…I mean, you don't like Harry. I thought you would want someone to make sure he asked the right questions…"

Harry raised an eyebrow. "You don't trust me?"

"I do, but I know he doesn't."

Draco thought about it. "Ok…your right, I wouldn't like being alone with Potter questioning me…crap…" he looked up. "but are the weasels going to be present, too?"

Ron's face grew red and he looked like he was going to say something when Ginny grabbed his arm.

"We'll be waiting for you at the Burrow, Harry." And with that, she disapperated. With Ron. That's a bonus.

Draco stared at the little bottle in his hands. Ugh. It wasn't so bad, was it? The alternative was worse. This way he could stay out of Azkaban and keep Hermione. Get his cake and eat it too.

All he had to do was submit himself to this humiliation. Sigh. What choice did he have?

He sat down on the puffy chair and drank the bottle's contents (a few drops at most) as quickly as possible.

He choked a bit on it, coughing and drooping forward. Hermione moved towards him and touched his shoulder.

"Are you ok?"

He nodded and awkwardly pushed her away as he coughed down the horrible liquid.

He really wished she wasn't in the room. This was going to be an utterly embarrassing scene, he was sure. He was usually so good at checking his feelings, at being in control…